Jack B. Du (Jiadong Du), a junior at NYU Shanghai pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Interactive Media Arts, describes how he developed the idea of JOY Mouse – a device that helps kids with cerebral palsy use the computer. (To see more of Jack’s work, visit jackbdu.me.)
I developed the idea of JOY Mouse<jackbdu.me/joy-mouse> when a group of us were brainstorming for a deign challenge at 2014 Barcamp, which was held at NYU Shanghai. The objective is to design a device for the kids with cerebral palsy to help them use the computer. So my idea was to redesign a mouse, which would be built from a joystick, that moves the cursor to different directions as the joystick was turned around. It was fortunate that Arduino<arduino.cc> has this micro-controller board called Leonardo, which has low-level connection with computers so that it can work as a computer mouse or keyboard. I started coding for that and the mouse I built could only move the cursor around, unable to perform a click. It was only a one- or two-hour challenge so I didn’t make everything work.
Weeks later, when I was participating in 2014 HackShanghai<hackshanghai.com>, I picked up that idea and started some real work on it. Eventually, within 24 hours, I built JOY Mouse, which can work as a fully functional mouse, controlled by only one finger, or one arm if it were made big enough. Moreover, it supports quite a few gestures to trigger different functions, like scrolling pages, switching between desktops, etc. The project won the 2nd Best Hardware Hack in that hackathon. Later on, with Professor Marianne R. Petit, I went to CereCare, a non-profit organization that provides training and accommodation for kids with cerebral palsy. I talked to the teachers there and discussed different methods to redesign JOY Mouse to actually fit their students.